Mark Dent: Hey everyone, I'll be chatting Penn State for the next half hour or so...
SDWC: Any realistic chance of beating OSU this week?
Mark Dent: I think so. Ohio State didn't look overly impressive against Iowa, and Northwestern doesn't look to be as good as people originally thought. I doubt Penn State wins, but Ohio State is not as unbeatable as the other top teams like Oregon and Alabama. But Penn State's rushing game will really need to get going. Even in that Michigan win, Penn State averaged about three yards per carry.
SDWC: Will Bill Belton be the feature back going forward?
Mark Dent: He'll likely start on Saturday. From there it is up to him. O'BRien really does have a meritocracy of sorts with the running backs, more so than the other positions. He often plans to use them equally and then if one of them plays better., he'll keep him in. That was the case with Belton against Michigan and his 27 carries. If he does well again, I think Belton will get the load of carries.
But again, none of the running backs have done all that well this year, particularly in Big Ten play. Aside from Purdue, which is barely a team at this point, Penn State has the worst rushing attack in Big Ten games.
Mike: Are we going to pick up Thomas Holley?
Mark Dent: Man, that's a tough one. It clearly helps that Holley was at the Michigan game - that game has clearly done wonders for recruiting with three commits since then, and I think that with the reduction of the sanctions there is less fear to commit because of that. But in the end, recruiting is such a crap shoot, I can't legitimately predict it. I do think Penn State's chances are better now than they were a month ago, though.
The fact that he's from Brooklyn is good for Penn State, too. NYC HS coaches have told me that NYC is up for grabs since Doug Marrone left Syracuse. Penn State has as good a reputation in that area as any team.
Mike: Do you think Robinson stays next year?
Mark Dent: I really don't. He has been so good that there is no way he doesn't go on the first day and maybe in the first round. I don't think he has anything left to prove. He really does look like a freak out there.
He comes from a middle-class family, though, so it's not like there's any urgency for him to turn pro financially. The decision will be mainly on what he wants to do and what he thinks is best for his football life. On the record, Robinson has pretty much declined to comment about NFL possibilities, saying he's just thinking about this year.
Mike: We're picking up offensive weapons from all over- do you think we are able to land any three or even four star o- linemen for 2014?
Mark Dent: Well Penn State has about five scholarships left to fill and would be smart to add one or two of those types of players. Whether they'll be three or four stars, I kind of doubt. I think Penn State will likely have to get one of those two-star or low three-star types that it can hope will turn into a good linemen. The offensive line has really struggled this year but there are some young guys who will be back, like Angelo Mangiro, Anthony Alosi and a couple of true freshmen
Mike: Does Penn State concentrate more on the run game and keep Miller off the field, or big plays this weekend?
Mark Dent: O'Brien says he's going to have to be careful with that mix. He wants to keep Miller off the field but Penn State's offense has proven to be best when it is going at NASCAR. If it goes too much NASCAR, Miller has more time to be on the field. I think Penn State should go fast-paced anyway. Last year, Penn State was conservative in the first half and it killed them in the end. Miller and Ohio State's offense will get it done no matter what, especially against a PSU defense with all kinds of holes. Penn State just needs to try and keep up.
All right. Well that'll do it for today. Thanks guys!